ISBN 981 78893868
238 pages

Rob Parsons describes this book as “inspirational”. It absolutely is.

Val Jeal is by any measure a heroic Christian. Yet this is not to suggest she is a plaster saint. This book tells the story of a life of reaching out to the vulnerable, and it is so effective because of the honesty and vulnerability of the Val herself.

The story of her month in Chicago as a volunteer is a case in point. This leave was the result of the fallout from Val’s burnout in the work. Prompted to volunteer for a similar work in Chicago, she found the distance allowed her to work though her issues and be reshaped for future usefulness. Val is a great example of treasure in jars of clay.

This is a remarkable story of working with sex workers and drug addicts in the Bristol area. It is a story of God’s provision for people and resources to do the work, some astonishing answers to prayer and accounts of many people helped through this work.

What struck me was how little things like giving birthday cards and flowers, taking coffee and cake, being there at the point of their deepest needs, made such an impact.

This story shows what can be achieved when people move out of their comfort zone to reach out to others. It also honestly relates how such work can bring disappointments and setbacks that can break your heart. It is costly to care. Praise God for people like Val Jeal, who are willing to pay that price.

John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia.